The Shine Literacy project (2016)

Shine Literacy is a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve literacy outcomes for young children from disadvantaged communities in South Africa. Working in partnership with teachers, volunteers and parents, our evidence-based programmes provide effective and sustained support to children as they learn to read and write, helping to foster a lifelong love of books and learning. For more info, please see

This year, VentureWeb donated R10,000 towards funding. Here is our interview with Hanli van Aswegen, Communications and Donor Co-ordinator, from the Shine Literacy team.

What was your biggest challenge in 2016?

The overall challenge we face is to match the demand for our programmes with the growth of a funding pool. We need to be very mindful of sustainability when we grow as we want to ensure ours is a high-quality intervention, and that we can effectively monitor and manage all of our programmes.

What was your biggest success in 2016?

Our most recent Grade Two assessment results showed that at the beginning of the year, 70% of children on the Shine programme were identified as being ‘At Risk’ in terms of their literacy, but after only six months of being on the programme, only 17% of children remained ‘At Risk’.

This year, we have a workforce of over 850 volunteers delivering weekly literacy support to 2 500 children in 46 schools.

Why are these types of donations important to the centre?

These donations are so helpful in that they go into our unrestricted pool of funding, ie. they aren’t earmarked for anything very specific. Some of our major funders support very specific elements of what Shine does, or they support our programme in a particular school/area. When we receive unrestricted funding, we are able to supplement any areas that are underfunded in a particular year.

Advertising Shine to your clients also really helps raise awareness about what we do, as well as the need for literacy support programmes in South Africa.

What would R10 000 typically be used to buy?

Donors can be specific if they want their donation to go to a particular Centre/resource/Family Literacy Workshop, but otherwise it would go towards our unrestricted funding pool and will – in one way or another – help us to cultivate a culture of reading in schools, communities and homes and provide the necessary resources to help make this happen.

How many children benefit from having the centre in place?

In short, it depends on the Centre and at which school it is based – some are bigger than others. We also have a few different models of our programme: Shine Centres, Shine Chapters and two programmes that use youth as volunteers.

We have eight Shine Centres in Cape Town and every week just over 400 children from having a Centre at their school.

Shine Chapters are social franchises that deliver the Shine Literacy Hour programme, but they are run independently. Shine provides some initial resources, training and ongoing support, but Chapters need to recruit their own volunteers and ensure model fidelity. We have 16 Shine Chapters in three provinces. These social franchises directly assist just over 800 children every week.

Our two programmes that use youth as volunteers are run in partnership with the Western Cape Government, amongst other partners. This year, 107 youth were trained and supported by Shine to deliver elements of our programme in 12 underperforming and under-resourced schools. These youth were directly assisting 1 400 children every week.

Anything else that would be of relevance

This year, Shine was running programmes in 46 schools in three provinces. Next year we will be actively involved in 71 schools in four provinces. We have some exciting partnerships in the pipelines, and next year we will open our first corporate sponsored Chapter. I alluded to it above, but Shine also runs Family Literacy Workshops on Saturday mornings. This is aimed at parents of Grade One children. We impart some very simple skills and techniques for encouraging reading at home, and each parent who attends receives a resource pack containing a ‘Reading at home’ manual, as well as some books and games. In 2017 we will run a record 40 workshops reaching approximately 2400 parents and caregivers.

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